The arrival of colder temperatures led to multiple water main breaks overnight Monday and into early Tuesday morning in Saskatoon.
Russ Munro, the City of Saskatoon director of water and waste treatment, said nine different locations saw water main breaks. He said a rapid drop in temperatures was behind the problems.
Temperatures went from about 0 C to -17 C starting late Saturday night. The low temperatures then hung around through to Tuesday.
“As the ground freezes, the frost can disrupt underground utilities,” Munro said.
Munro said there didn’t seem to be much of a pattern to where the breaks occurred.
“Regardless of the age of the pipes — new or old — frost can cause the ground to shift and this slight movement can cause a pipe to crack and leak water,” he said.
One of the water main breaks happened on a typically busy stretch of 25th Street East near the University Bridge, forcing the road to be closed between 3rd Avenue North and 5th Avenue North.
The city advised that the repair on 25th Street East was expected to be complete ahead of the Thursday morning rush hour. In the meantime, drivers were advised to avoid the area if possible.
The affected water main on 25th Street was among several that feed into City Hospital. The break caused a temporary loss of water pressure to the hospital, which prompted a drinking water advisory for the facility.
A media release from the Saskatoon Health Region stated that people shouldn’t drink water from the hospital taps until it can be confirmed to be safe to consume. The water was reportedly fine for things like hand-washing and flushing toilets.
Munro said a few apartment buildings in the area of the leak on 25th Street were also without water as crews had shut off valves around the break.
According to a city press release, any home or business expected to face a loss of water service for 24 hours or more due to a water break would have an alternate source of water provided.
All nine water main breaks were expected to be fixed within 24 to 48 hours.
Drivers were asked to respect any work zones in place in the affected areas.